It was far from pretty, but ending a lengthy losing streak to your cross-town rival is the best Christmas present.
Junior Devon Junghans poured in a game-high 14 points, drew a charge with less than two seconds remaining, and the Salina South Cougars outlasted Salina Central, 48-45, snapping a nine-game losing streak Friday night at Salina South High School. South improved to 3-2, 3-1 in AVCTL-I while Central dropped to 2-2, 0-1.
South blitzed Central early, powering its way to a 10-3 advantage, using seniors Koby Ratcliff and Cade Hannert, and junior AJ Johnson. The trio combined for 11 of the 14 points in the opening quarter, mainly in the paint as South built a 14-8 advantage.
The Cougars pushed their cushion to 10, 22-12, before the Mustangs responded with a 10-1 burst. Although he battled foul problems all night, Junghans checked in for the final possession, scoring on a runner below the foul line at the buzzer, propelling South to a 25-22 lead.
Salina South attempted to pull away at various points in the ensuing two periods. Central trailed by seven, twice, in the third, but only fell behind by three. Salina Central had one final attack. Down 45-37, the Mustangs recorded back-to-back three-point plays, including a triple by senior Jevon Burnett, clipping the deficit to two.
In the final two minutes, South failed to convert on free throws, keeping the door open for Central. With 6.3 seconds remaining, Johnson went one-of-two at the charity stripe, putting the Cougars ahead 47-45. Salina Central junior Reed McHenry sprinted down the floor, and while making a pass into the corner, ran into a planted Junghans for the game-sealing turnover.
Junghans scored 12 of his 14 in the second half. Johnson added a season-high 10 points off the bench. South heads to Maize South after the holiday break on Tuesday, January 7. Coverage begins at 5:45 on Y93.7.
McHenry paced the Mustangs with 10 points. Senior Christian Tedlock chipped in a career-high 9. Central travels to Derby on Monday, January 6. Coverage on 1150 KSAL.
CENTRAL 48, SOUTH 33
The final Salina Showdown of the decade featured the best combined record in the last 20 years at 6-1.
One record is still unblemished.
Salina Central sophomore Aubrie Kierscht connected on back-to-back threes to open the fourth quarter, propelling the No. 3 Lady Mustangs to their 54th victory over the Cougars in the series.
Both teams struggled to get in rhythm. When Salina South (3-2, 2-2) erased its goose egg with 3:25 left in the first frame, the Cougars trailed 5-1. South sophomore Kahlysa Hamel drilled the Cougars’ first three, keeping the deficit a four in the second.
Central (4-0, 1-0) controlled the rest of the half, outscoring South 8-1, building a 22-11 advantage. Salina South had one last charge, trimming the margin to 32-25 following the third quarter.
That’s when Kierscht took over, sparking an 8-0 run to start the final stanza. Kierscht finished with a game-high 20 points. South was paced by seniors Lauren Raubenstine and Tori Maxton, who each had seven points.
*Photos by Tanner Colvin*